mechanics checking a car during an MOT test


3 mins

Understanding what an MOT failure means

December 12, 2023

Ever failed an MOT and wondered why? A recent study by the RAC found that around 7.3 million vehicles fail their MOT test each year. We’re here to stop this happening to you!

In this blog, we’ll explore the different causes of an MOT failure and pre MOT checks you can do yourself to minimise the risk of failing an MOT.

What does an MOT failure mean?

An MOT test involves various checks of the vehicle to ensure that it is safe and roadworthy. When a vehicle fails its MOT test, it means that at the time of the test, the car did not meet the minimum requirements set out by the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency).

When faults are identified with the vehicle, the MOT tester will list them as ‘dangerous’, ‘major’, ‘minor’ or ‘advisories.

You can’t fail an MOT on advisories or minor faults alone. This means that, only if an MOT tester identifies any major or dangerous faults with the vehicle, you will not be able to pass your MOT test until the necessary repairs have been made.

What could cause an MOT failure: 11 things that could fail an MOT

When an MOT tester believes that faults found with the vehicle are a potential threat to your safety and that of other road users, it will result in an MOT failure.

The most common reasons that could cause an MOT failure are:

1. Lighting and signalling

  • Faulty headlights, rear lights, brake lights, indicators, or hazard lights
  • Inadequate headlight aim
  • Missing or broken bulbs
  • Improper functioning of fog lights, reverse lights, or number plate lights
  • Incorrect operation of the lighting control system

2. Brakes

  • Insufficient brake performance when in operation
  • Worn out brake pads and discs
  • Low or leaking brake fluid
  • Handbrake failure

3. Tyres and wheels

4. Suspension and steering

  • Faulty shock absorbers or suspension components
  • Steering wheel alignment issues

5. Exhaust emissions

  • Exhaust leaks or excessive corrosion in the exhaust system
  • Modified or tampered emission control systems

6. Windscreen and wipers

  • Windscreen cracks or damage that obstructs the driver’s view
  • Worn or damaged wiper blades that do not clean the windscreen effectively
  • Faulty wiper or washer system

7. Seatbelts and restraint systems

  • Damaged seatbelts including buckles and mounts
  • Inoperative seatbelt retractors or tensioners
  • Missing or inadequate child restraint systems

8. Body and general condition

  • Structural corrosion or rust
  • Sharp edges
  • Inadequate door latches or hinges
  • Damaged or malfunctioning mirrors

9. Fuel system

  • Leaks within the fuel system including filler caps
  • Incorrect or missing fuel system components

10. Registration and identification

  • Missing or incorrect Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) or reg plates Illegal number plates
  • Insufficient visibility of number plates

11. Miscellaneous

Pre-checks to reduce the risk of an MOT failure

We understand how frustrating an MOT failure can be, so we’ve written a detailed blog on pre-checks you can do yourself before heading to your vehicle’s MOT test to minimise the risk of failing.

By conducting these pre MOT checks, you can take proactive steps to address any issues and increase the chances of a successful MOT test.

Book an MOT in Caura

We highly recommend checking your MOT history in Caura before your MOT test. You will be able to see all your past test results including any faults or advisories found during the test.

If there are any faults or advisories on your latest MOT test that you haven’t gotten repaired, you should book these repairs in before your MOT test.

You can book all repair work directly in the Caura app.

Check mileage and MOT history in Caura

The road to an MOT retest

Following an MOT fail, you will need to get the defects to be fixed and then take the vehicle back for a retest.

If you get your MOT retest done at the same garage:

  • The next working day, the garage should conduct a free partial retest
  • Within 10 working days, the garage should conduct a partial retest by may charge a small fee

Read more about getting an MOT retest here.

It's important to note that if your MOT has expired and your vehicle failed the test, you will only be allowed to drive your vehicle to the test centre for a pre-booked MOT test or to a garage for repairs.

Book an MOT with trusted mechanics in Caura


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